El*A*Kwents looks the part of what El-P might’ve circa ’94: appetent and angry, yet underdeveloped and unsure how to manifest his thoughts. In a vague jumble of words closing “Beware,” El*A*Kwents sums up all the woes of “Lucid”: “you gotta stand up for your rights or they’re gonna take it from you.” In reality, nobody’s taking shit from him outside of taxes, but in his world, it’d at least be convenient if that was the case. Call it a state of mind, call it illogical wannabe-ism; it’s both. In short, he has a hard-on for the conspiracy theory. I want to believe that whatever he’s saying is worth remembering, but it’s more or less “the world is this, society is that,” with few details in between. He’s an even blunter Immortal Technique with an even more one-track mind and a limited means of expression.
Still, I wouldn’t DREAM of calling El a lesser emcee; he has a great voice and his flow can be rather pleasant; but his tendency to revert back to his “ideological revolution” bullshit hinders the album. Concepts intentionally aimed outside of these barriers always seem to mosey on back to Blah Blah Land. Even on a track about making cash (“Grind”), he totally derails himself, talking ’bout “resurfacing with a purpose,” and ultimately resulting in empty lines like “precognition ignition friction,” which surely makes not even the teeniest bit of sense. “Politrix” is the kind of wannabe anti-Bush banter that amateur poets vomit at Barnes & Noble. Oddly enough, El keeps insisting we all get organized, strive (for something), stop the hate and maintain hope – sounding like, well, the commander in chief.
The political raps quickly wear thin, making lighter tracks like “It’s Yours” important changes of pace, but I don’t know if any other track pissed me off as much. Hearing him chant “the world is yours” in the hook made my stomach turn. I mean, we’re talking possibly (and probably) the four most sacred words in hip-hop that AIN’T public property. Any ol’ mother can bark “yes, yes y’all,” but unless you’re holding some serious weight, I’ve always figured avoiding a line like “protect ya neck” was a general rule of thumb. As such, adopting THE greatest hook from THE greatest album is a no-no. He can’t get “flow like sex” past me either, especially when “flow like thunder” follows within two minutes.
The title track is straight up just-got-caught-masturbating embarrassment, with some cheesy chick howling “build your life” over an extra mozzarella beat, while El continues to say big words like “procreation” for no reason. It’s a damn good thing “Glorious Warrior” is only 1:10, despite a decent string sample and a funny capping line (“I give a fuck like a nympho”). Otherwise, the beat has me ripping hairs from my fucking arm and I don’t even know what the Bejesus the man’s talking about. He’s finally productive on “War On Love,” flipping his words nicely and sending an admirable message: “catch the brunt of the joke in your town – you think you’re down ’cause you push weight? Wait.”
The beats are mostly ADD-fueled sample-fests that are aight the first time through but hold no replay value. That’s not counting “Space and Time,” which boasts an absolutely gorgeous break; quirky electronic keys waltzing betwixt each other to a distant, lonesome drum pattern. Often, the samples used in one song hardly match each other (“Beware”), and I literally walked away from one listening session needing Tylenol. Still, I can’t hate on the production as a whole; the snares are typically above average and some tracks have nice melodies (I didn’t mind the electric guitar on “Holdin’ Dreams”).
With a flow like his, El*A*Kwents could sign to Def Jux if his lyricism ever transcended 11th grade. “Lucid” isn’t bad at all mechanically, but it has little substance, little soul, and puts insomniacs to sleep. Number one rule for making hip-hop music: DO YOU. El*A*Kwents seems to have a grasp – he just can’t put what he wants on paper.